Bicycle Colorado journeyed to the Pikes Peak region to hold a Bicycle-Friendly Driver Certification Program Oct. 11 to educate Colorado Springs residents on driver and cyclist safety.
The hour-and-a-half course, which participants leave a certified “Bicycle-Friendly Driver,” was offered to residents thanks to the Road to Zero Grant. The grant’s larger goal is to make streets, bicyclists and all road users safer. Colorado Springs is one of the 26 communities in the state that Bicycle Colorado has chosen to educate under this grant knowing that the city’s cyclist culture continues to grow.
The biking community in the region is evolving, with accessibility to bike lanes and rentable bicycles growing, not to mention an increase in groups passionate about improving cycling infrastructure. As biking becomes more popular, local representatives of the biking community say they are noticing a need for education on defensive driving and have chosen to partner with Bicycle Colorado to improve programming on the subject.
The Bicycle-Friendly Driver Certification Program is used in national and international conversations about bicycle safety, but the course didn’t start with Bicycle Colorado. It started with Bike Fort Collins, in the northern Colorado city known for it’s cycling infrastructure.
“Fort Collins is the group who originally started this curriculum,” said Maureen McCanna, education program manager of Bicycle Colorado. “What we’re doing through this grant is supporting communities who want to do incorporate this education but don’t have the resources to do it.”
Bicycle Colorado used the curriculum to partner with representatives of the Colorado Springs cycling community to bring that education forward. The curriculum can be downloaded and adapted to each community and their different needs. Courses are free to the community and you can register online.
During the course presentation, which was presented by Community Safety Coordinator Molly McKinley, the concept of “sharing the road” was set in the motorist’s perspective, covering how to share the road, avoid accidents, properly utilize bike lane, yield to cyclists, safely pass cyclists and turn in intersections. The program offers courses from both cyclists’ and motorists’ perspectives; local representatives can choose which course to provide to their community.
McKinley said drivers should treat cyclists as if they are drivers of vehicles who have as much right to the road as a motorist. She also emphasized the importance of exercising caution and patience when passing a cyclist.
McCanna said she was pleased with the turnout for the first course in the community, but hoped this education could extend beyond cyclist enthusiasts.
“We had a very bicycle-friendly group here tonight,” said McCanna, “but we want to make sure we are reaching people who may not be avid bicyclists and may not have that perspective.”
Bicycle Colorado plans to bring an average of 2-3 courses to the community with hopes of maintaining a long-term partnerships to make their information accessible to everyone.
Those who attended and completed the course were given a “Bicycle-Friendly Driver” certificate and a sticker to place on their vehicle.
As part of their initiative to advocate for safe cycling statewide, Bicycle Colorado is also encouraging cycling enthusiasts and their friends to vote yes on Proposition 110. Voting “yes” on Proposition 110 would support the initiative to authorize $6 billion in bonds to fund transportation projects by raising the sales tax 0.62 from 2.9 percent. Fifteen percent of the funds for transportation projects will benefit biking and walking paths to help reduce vehicle use in communities.
Bicycle Colorado is a nonprofit based out of Denver; its initiative for the last 25 years has been to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation.
For more information about upcoming bike safety courses, visit bicyclecolorado.org.